Get the car gassed up — you’re going to be spending more time on the road than normal visiting all of the area’s festivals this weekend.
Let’s take a systematic approach to it. Follow the festivals in a clockwise circle around Rochester starting with Lake City’s Water Ski Days, which leaves plenty of fun things to do in its wake, starting with Family Day today and a 6 p.m. performance by Those Pesky Kids ($15).
Saturday’s schedule includes a half marathon (7 a.m.), water ski show (1 p.m.), and performance by Hitchville (8 p.m., $15). Sunday wraps up the festival with plenty more to do, including the grand parade (2 p.m.) and two more concerts — Diesel Drive (6 p.m.) followed by Chris Hawkey (8:30). Find all the info online: www.lakecity.org/waterskidays.html.
Work your way southeast down the mighty Mississippi to Wabasha, which hosts Bald Eagle Days through Saturday at the National Eagle Center.
It’s a big-time learning opportunity, with presentations by naturalists, preservationists and biologists on subjects including Mississippi River health, whooping crane recovery, and helping honeybees survive. Plus, you can fish for the eagles, and visit with the center’s Eagle Ambassadors — Was’aka, Angel, Columbia and the rest. More: www.nationaleaglecenter.org.
Wind your way south from there to Lewiston, whose Heartland Days, through Saturday, includes athletic tournaments aplenty (basketball, golf, volleyball, Little League baseball — even cornhole and horseshoes), a reptile display, inflatables and horse rides for the kids, a classic car cruise (6 p.m.), and grand parade (6:30 p.m.). The night wraps up with a Christian rock concert (7:30 p.m.) and dance with Incognito (8:30 p.m.). Find more info: www.lewistonmn.org.
Just a short jaunt to the southwest, Fountain hosts its annual Trail Days. Not to be outdone by the other festivals, Trail Days has not just music but laughs in store, when comedian Scott Novotny takes the stage in the community center at 8 p.m. Saturday. DJ Dyana follows Novotny.
Earlier in the day, there’s plenty of stuff for all ages: a dunk tank, kids’ ball game (2:30 p.m.), decorated bike contest and parade (4:30 p.m.), and a farmers and merchants ball game played to goofy rules (5 p.m.). Dairy Night at the Michael Redalen farm goes from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and all day long, the Pork Producers offer plenty to eat. More: www.facebook.com/FountainTrailDays.
A few miles to the west on Hwy. 16, Grand Meadow holds Meadowfest today through Sunday. Check out tonight’s Family Fun Night in the Grand Meadow school gym (7 p.m.) or join in the 5K run/walk (7 p.m., or an hour earlier for the kids’ race, all at the GM school).
For the culinary, Saturday’s highlight could be the BBQ Challenge, 5:30 p.m. at First St. NE, east of the beer garden. Start your engines for the car show (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Mud’n In the Meadow, (3:30 p.m., after the 2 p.m. grand parade, on the northwest side of the city). Plenty more online: www.cityofgrandmeadow.com.
Music lovers will north from Grand Meadow to Mantorville for Stagecoach Days, which features local performers Six Mile Grove, Suite and Nathan Miller & Unstoppable Co. There’s a tractor pull, art show, theater performances, wine tasting and more. Find all the info: www.facebook.com/Mantorvillestagecoach.
Last of all there’s plenty to do in Rochester itself as Rochesterfest wraps up this weekend. An associated event just outside of town is Saturday’s Zumbro River Community Festival, at Camp Victory near Oronoco. Info: www.campvictory.com, click under “Events.”
Next week’s festival lineup is piled high with July 4 events, but also the Cannon Valley Fair, Hammond Classic Car Show, and Summerfest in Stewartville.